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Collina ready to hang up his whistle

Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2007 16:53

Pierluigi Collina is the most famous official on the planet
Pierluigi Collina is the most famous official on the planet

Italian referee Pierluigi Collina looks set to end his career in the summer and take a desk job.

Last month Collina celebrated his 45th birthday which means that under existing rules he must retire.

Italian rules stipulate he must quit at the end of the current season while UEFA rules would allow him to continue until the end of the calendar year if he wished.

It had been suggested he might get a special dispensation to continue while Football Association board member David Dein had previously suggested Collina might be lured to the Premiership.

However, it was reported today in Italy that Collina will now become the designatore  - the man who decides the officials to handle Serie A and Serie B games every week. The Gazzetta dello Sport claims the move will be formally announced in June when the Serie B season is over.

He would replace the two men who currently fulfil that function, Pierluigi Pairetto and Paolo Bergamo.

Collina has handled many memorable games including the 2002 World Cup final, the 1999 Champions League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich and last season's UEFA Cup final.

On six occasions he has been voted as the best referee although this year he lost that title to Germany's Markus Merk.

Collina, who hails from the seaside town of Viareggio whose other famous football export is current Italy coach Marcello Lippi, has also become a media celebrity, partly because of his unusual physical appearance - he suffers from alopecia.